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Buying Appliances that Won''t Look Dated in 10 Years

By: Mike Thomas

Do white appliances look dated to you? They do to me, but the colors that replaced them -- avocado, mustard, almond -- over the decades look even more dated. Stainless steel has become the go-to choice for a classic kitchen look.

Stainless steel has been around for decades now. I don''t know about you, but I am tired of wiping fingerprints off my stainless steel refrigerator. I keep running out of the special sprays you buy to keep stainless surfaces clean. I''m ready to take a second look at white.

Stainless or white? A debate has been raging for about a year now, in blogs, in news articles, in kitchen conventions, about whether stainless steel has seen its day. White is experiencing an upsurge in popularity. Last years''s Kitchen and Bath Industry show in Chicago saw the debate heating up. Several appliance makers introduced lines of white appliances. The new white is a cool tone with a very high-gloss finish. So it looks new, while at the same time filling the slot of classic white appliance. If you''re looking to replace your appliances with a look that will not date, you might consider white again. White is the new "new."

Buying new appliances is a major investment. You want your purchases to look good for a long time. Unless you are planning to sell your house, you want your kitchen to look good to you. There are arguments to be made for brightly colored appliances. If you like cobalt blue, so be it. You may be considering updating with blue appliances. If you are sure you will still like cobalt blue ten years from now this might be a good choice.

Here are some points to keep in mind, though. Scratches, scrapes and other wear and tear show more prominently on dark colors. Nothing''s going to date your appliances more than a wornout look. Unusual colors can be harder to replace, too. That cobalt blue line from a European designer who has gone out of business is going to fall apart if you have to replace the range with one of another color. If you do plan to sell your house, cobalt blue is not going to be a selling point. Realtors always recommend light, neutral tones. These will please the most people -- or, at least, most people will find them easy to live with. Neutral tones on the cool side will look good beside the marble or granite countertops that are so popular right now. White goes with everything.

Another rising trend is vintage or retro kitchens. Vintage is the original, retro is the contemporary revival of an old look. If you have a quaint kitchen from the 1950s, you may have decided to restore it rather than replace it. Retro appliances will fit the look of your kitchen. Will the look last for ten years? A decade from now, you may be wanting to update the kitchen entirely. At that point, retro appliances lose their glamour.

That brings up another point to consider. Look around your house for clues to a new kitchen look. Is your decor artsy and informal throughout? Then terra cotta, which is actually considered a classic color, may be perfect for your kitchen. If you have a minimal look, stainless steel will fit in. So will black. Black is very popular right now. It is also considered a classic color. Black may be the right choice for you, if you are not bothered by the fact that dark surfaces show smudges and have to be polished frequently. White is looking good to me.


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†Average repair and replacement costs as reported in a nationwide survey: A Study of Homeowners Appliance and Home System Service Experiences Decision Analyst (2011) and reprinted with their written permission.

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